Reorganizing my blogging experience – write markdown in Evernote with Postach.io and sync to WordPress

Original post: http://kleineblase.postach.io/reorganizing-my-blogging-experience-write-markdown-in-evernote-with-postach-io-and-sync-to-wordpress

I loved Postach.io the first time I saw it in Evernote Dev cup this year. I know it will win and it did.
As I was also a participant, I know how smart they have to be.

Put it simple, you write in evernote and it will automatically publish to your blog.

highlight is it solved two problems at once
– you want to save what you wrote really secure – Evernote did it
– you want to keep the posts updated – you update once in Evernote and it publishes & sync to the audience

TO-BE Workflow

Nth explain better than a picture

Workflow

It looks complex, but good news is most paths are just automated and I focus on the main part – content.

Requirements and old issues

Several things I need when I blog:

Secure, available, anywhere

Availability is why I don’t host my own blog like other developers do. I have enough things to busy with and maintaining a server up is not in my list.
I am fine with WordPress’s free account. At least I know my blog is unlikely to be down.
Just after all blog providers do shut down, like xanga. There are more concerns like encoding and you want to have control on your own stuff and backup them.
Lost everything during you have written 80%, I tried, is just a terrible experience. Find a reliable editor.

Evernote is very secure in all these which has goal to keep it for at least 100 years

Write once, update everywhere

It is most important. In my existing workflow, I write in evernote or other editors then publish to wordpress. Then I find a grammar mistake. I find a link broken. I need to update that in local and then edit that in the duplicated wordpress again. Make things worse, formatting matters. I used markdown – I need to convert manually, healthcheck and post again. This is the least fun part of blogging and kills productivity.

Markdown and formattings

Markdown is one of the greatest “discovery” about formatting text.
I just cannot hate any kind of text-formatting methods any more. WordPress has a nice WYSIWYG editor – but it is still annoying when you blog.
Not to mention these formats are very unlikely to transfer seamlessly among different platforms. e.g. your Word editor and on WordPress. Not to mention when you have code snippets to show.

When blogging, keep source in markdown. Publish the converted markdown is much easier.

I spent quite a lot of effort to investigate how to use it everywhere and with its traction I know many people have the same question.
I also created Cheeatz on how to covert markdown & gist in evernote, for developer cheeatsheet purpose.

Platform and Audience

SEO and analytics of wordpress is really nice. You know people from which country visited, which keywords they used in search engine to reach your blog. Mobile app is also available.
This is something postach.io unlikely to beat in near future. There are also communities and social networks within wordpress then make your blog higher exposure.
like the “ping back” system – your posts are visible in posts you mentioned, and they know you mentioned them.

Medium is a high-profile blog platform startup that I am interested. (By Evan Williams who is “Making systems for typing and thinking” (twitter/blogger)). However, so far I don’t see killer features.

Postach.io is able to auto-share to twitter and Facebook which is good enough for me. WordPress there are more hooks, up to your need. More sophisticated user may want to even control the time of publish – to avoid posts ignored by social network algorithms when finish it tiredly at 3am.

My take will be – keep the wordpress there for audience and perhaps availability. I will sync from postach.io to WordPress.
This is tricky – syncing directly from evernote to wordpress is doable via tools like zapier.

Proofreading

When I blog, I am in hype. You are excited about your ideas and you want to push it right away. After publish you feel a sense of “done” meanwhile you keep checking has anyone commented.
One day or two after you found it tastes a bit different, you got other thoughts and you can see there are quite a lot of grammatical mistakes.
It is how our brain functions – big topic aside – review is better done a while later after your are less “dived” in details.

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So above are my requirements, below are my actual flow ( refer to the diagram)

Markdown editors

Writing markdown directly in evernote may not be that friendly – you want preview.
This has been discussed several times – one can use online editors Markable.in or Stackedit(https://stackedit.io/) or my own trial cheeatz.com which, to confess, is little bit broken now.
I am trying to write in sublime – with syntax hightlighting and then use SublimeEvernote(https://github.com/jamiesun/SublimeEvernote) to send to Evernote. This is not perfect, as every time a new note is created.

Sync New post in postach.io to WordPress

Zapier or IFTTT are great services to schedule automated tasks among your cloud services. Meanwhile Postach.io is not available in Zapier yet.

Sync directly from evernote to WordPress has an issue – there is no conversion for markdown in source.

Luckily, we can use RSS postach.io which shows list of entries in postach.io, so

New Item in Postach.io RSS -> Create new WordPress Post

You should find the RSS url in your postach.io blog (depends on your template) and you can configure the RSS feed in settings.
e.g. mine is http://kleineblase.postach.io/feed.xml

I created a simple recipe here, not sure if it works for you

Use “Content Text”, not Content directly

With this whenever I blog in postach.io, a wordpress entry is created!
It looks good, as at least wordpress is able to feed in the text with format in html.

Improvement and Tradeoff

Posts update in postach.io are not sync to wordpress

I am not a hollyword star so managing feedbacks in multiple platforms is not my top concern. I focus more on the workflow of producing. (an idea will be try to use same disqus in different platform? I am not sure, free wordpress don’t support this anyway)
It is also less likely to need to update wordpress if original post went through proofread process.

This is little big hard – Need postac.io ‘s RSS feed to provide information of “Update” or a smart tool that do more to keep removing & updaing rss items.

Anyway, the current approach is good enough to keep my workflow running

Create Preview in postach.io

There seems to be no draft preview in postach.io
One trick is to have a “pre-prd” /”staging”, well, a less geek term, draft notebook which corresponding to a private blog and you (and your peers!) can review it before actual post. It is not possible to make it totally private, but I think for me it is fine. You feel a fake sense of “done” meanwhile you can ensure its quality.
To switch from “pre-prod” to “prod” (actual blog) is just a notebook switch in evernote.
Btw i just did proofread and publish of this article using evernote app in mobile and I find it comfortable.

All in all

I am experimenting with the workflow. Postach.io is not very mature, but I think it will grow and give us more features.
(I can see some linked produced by my markdown syntax []() breaks if the link is picked up by evernote already. Ironically, when you “paste as plain text” in Evernote, it is automatically converted into link which I need to remove manually)

I also did not disucss on one topic – how to organize your “to blog” ideas, which need further explore. Without suprise before I blog I had some ideas written in —Evernote, which I will tag with “to blog”. I also create lists in Trello for things I need to write.
Also there are some work to export my old wordpress blog posts to postachio, which here is a reference

Hope this post helps you. Credits, if any, should be given to above tools’ teams and most importantly, Aaron Swartz, who invented RSS and markdown.

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One thought on “Reorganizing my blogging experience – write markdown in Evernote with Postach.io and sync to WordPress

  1. Reorganizing my blogging experience – write markdown in Evernote with Postach.io and sync to WordPress – Kleine Blase | kelt cloud space

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